Monday, February 7, 2011

English Yeast, Fermentation Tasting

Right around day 7-10 of primary fermentation, I like to take a gravity reading and sample the beer to see how it is coming along. For me, this is a very important step in the brewing process at it gives me a little preview of how the beer might taste in the bottle/keg and will determine my next course of action for the beer. I thought this might be of interest to some, as it's a step that most homebrewers take, but rarely talk about.

Today we have two beers ready for preliminary testing; an English best bitter brewed with wy1318 and my recently brewed English IPA with wy1187. The grain bill of these two is not that different. The best bitter is 85% Maris Otter, 7% crystal 40L, 4% crystal 150L, and 4% amber malt. Hops are EKG and Fuggles, with a pretty high hopping rate and BU:GU ratio of 0.75. The IPA is 85% Maris Otter, 8% crystal 60L, 4% amber malt, and 3% wheat malt. Hops are Magnum and EKG with BU:GU ratio of around 1.0. Original gravities are 1.045 for the Bitter and 1.062 for the IPA. Both beer's attenuated to 1.010, with 4.6% and 6.5% ABV, respectively.

First, the Best Bitter. The color is right on target, around 12srm, though a bit cloudy. On the nose it's sweet- biscuity malt, earthy hops, light esters, and  caramel. The flavor is similar to the aroma, a soft biscuit maltiness with some caramel, that toast-crust flavor one gets from amber malt, and lots of earthy/floral hops. The bitterness is a little stronger than I want. Some grassy hop character, probably from all the hop debris that made it into the fermenter. The yeast character is there, but a bit muted. Overall, this beer has potential, but isn't exactly where I want it. The malt character is a bit muddled and the the hop flavor isn't as clean as I would have liked. As such, I will crash cool this beer to get it to drop clear and probably do a short 'lager' at 40F. I probably will dry hop this with an ounce of EKG. It won't be to style, but that's ok as it wont be entered into any competitions. I pitched the yeast at 64 and let the temp rise up to 68.

Now the IPA. The color is right on target, with very nice clarity. The aroma is clean malt with lots of fragrant, flowery hops. The flavor is clean malt - some biscuit and a touch of caramel - with some very nice English yeast character. All flavors are distinct from each other. There is a bit of diacetyl, though it is pleasant and goes well with the malt; diacetyl levels will go down with a D-rest in the coming days. There is some hop flavor in the middle, though the malt really shines here. Bitterness is firm, though appropriate for the style. So far the flavor reminds me a lot of Middle Ages "Beast Bitter." Overall this beer is coming along really nice and should turn out very well. I will give it another week in the primary for a D-rest then crash cool it and dry hop it with two ounces of EKG. I pitched the yeast for this one at 65 and let the temp rise to 72 for two days, for more yeast character.

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